Norway landfills only around 1% of its waste. The rest is valorized. The Oslo region has a range of different initiatives and waste management systems that have one thing in common: they are all designed to extract as much value from waste as possible with a low impact on the environment. Innovation in the sector is today guided by the waste hierarchy and the circular economy principles.
Re-use stands and kiosks give citizens in the Oslo region the opportunity to swap furniture, books, or any other objects which are still in a good shape.
Waste in the Circular economy
Most municipalities in the Oslo region jointly own inter-municipal public companies that ensure effcient waste management. The region’s waste management practices were strongly influenced by the 2009 national ban on landfilling biodegradable waste. This worked as an incentive for many inter-municipal companies to implement source separation of food waste and valorization through energy production.
Using the guidelines of the waste hierarchy
Waste-to-Energy. Residual waste in Oslo region is used in waste-to-energy plants with high energy efficiency. The energy is used as electricity and heat distributed through the district heating system. To reduce emissions from the process, the City of Oslo became the first in the world to pilot carbon capture and storage technology on a waste-to-energy plant.
Recycling. Textiles, wood, glass, metals, paper and plastic are some of the material waste streams with high valorization rates. Food waste is used as feedstock in biogas production followed by fertilizer production. Biogas becomes fuel for public busses and waste collection trucks. Valorization of these waste streams is possible due to ambitious policy, well-functioning waste management systems, innovative technology and good communication between the different stakeholders in the region.
Re-use. Re-use stands and kiosks give citizens in the Oslo region the opportunity to swap furniture, books, or any other objects which are still in a good shape. Events such as Green Friday (as a reaction to Black Friday) has seen impressive involvement from the local community that engage in efforts to reduce material consumption levels.
Avoid. Due to efforts of awareness creation and communication, stakeholders in the region are increasingly interested in tackling the issue of inefficient use of resources and avoiding production of waste. Whether it is an app that helps citizens to share excess food, a cosmetics company that produces soap with coffee grounds from Oslo’s cafes or a co-working space that organizes repair workshops, they are all driven by the same vision. Efficient use of resources and avoiding waste production.
But the best is yet to come
Oslo has recently taken on the leadership in a cooperation between European cities, part of the new EU cooperation methodology Urban Agenda. This will create ground to identify new actions and collaboration projects that will contribute to accomplish the vision of Oslo; to become the circular economy capital of the world.